- Category : Political
- Type : ME
- Profile : 4/1 - Opportunistic / Investigator
- Definition : Split - Small (37)
- Incarnation Cross : JX Principles
Sarah Louise Heath Palin (born February 11, 1964) is the current Governor of Alaska, and the presumptive 2008 Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States.
She is expected to be the second female Vice Presidential nominee representing one of the two major American political parties.
Born in Idaho and raised in Alaska, Palin gained statewide recognition as a championship high school athlete and was the 1984 runner-up in the Miss Alaska pageant. After graduating from the University of Idaho and working as a sports reporter at an Anchorage television station, Palin served two terms on the Wasilla, Alaska, City Council from 1992 to 1996, was elected mayor of Wasilla in 1996, and ran unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor in 2002.
After charging ethical violations by state Republican Party leaders, she won election in 2006 by first defeating incumbent governor Frank Murkowski in the Republican primary, then former Democratic Alaskan governor Tony Knowles in the general election.
On August 29, 2008, presumptive GOP nominee John McCain chose Palin as his nominee for vice president.
Family and personal background
Palin was born in Sandpoint, Idaho, the daughter of Charles and Sally (Sheeran) Heath. Her family moved to Alaska when she was an infant. Charles Heath was a science teacher and track coach. The Heaths were avid outdoors enthusiasts; Sarah and her father would sometimes wake at 3 a.m. to hunt moose before school, and the family would regularly run 5k and 10k races.
Palin was the point guard and captain for the Wasilla High School Warriors, in Wasilla, Alaska, when they won the Alaska small-school basketball championship in 1982; she earned the nickname "Sarah Barracuda" because of her intense play. She played the championship game despite a stress fracture in her ankle, hitting a critical free throw in the last seconds. Palin, who was also the head of the school Fellowship of Christian Athletes, would lead the team in prayer before games.
In 1984, after winning the Miss Wasilla contest earlier that year, Palin finished second in the Miss Alaska beauty pageant which won her a scholarship to help pay her way through college. In the Wasilla pageant, she played the flute and also won Miss Congeniality.
Palin holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Idaho where she also minored in politics.
Her husband, Todd, is a Native Yup'ik Eskimo. Outside the fishing season, Todd works for BP at an oil field on Alaska's North Slope and is a champion snowmobiler, winning the 2000-mile "Iron Dog" race four times. The two eloped shortly after Palin graduated college; when they learned they needed witnesses for the civil ceremony, they recruited two residents from the old-age home down the street. The Palin family lives in Wasilla, about 40 miles (64 km) north of Anchorage.
She briefly worked as a sports reporter for local Anchorage television stations while also working as a commercial fisherman with her husband, Todd, her high school sweetheart. One summer when she was working on Todd's fishing boat, the boat collided with a tender while she was holding onto the railing; Palin broke several fingers.
On September 11, 2007, the Palins' eighteen-year-old son Track, eldest of five, joined the Army. He now serves in an infantry brigade and will be deployed to Iraq in September 2008. She also has three daughters: Bristol, 17; Willow, 13; and Piper, 7. On April 18, 2008, Palin gave birth to her second son, Trig Paxson Van Palin, who has Down syndrome. She returned to the office three days after giving birth. Palin refused to let the results of prenatal genetic testing change her decision to have the baby. "I'm looking at him right now, and I see perfection," Palin said. "Yeah, he has an extra chromosome. I keep thinking, in our world, what is normal and what is perfect?"
Details of Palin's personal life have contributed to her political image. She hunts, eats moose hamburger, ice fishes, rides snowmobiles, and owns a float plane. Palin holds a lifetime membership with the National Rifle Association. She admits that she used marijuana when it was legal in Alaska, but says that she did not like it.
Pre-gubernatorial political experience
Palin served two terms on the Wasilla City Council from 1992 to 1996. In 1996, she challenged the incumbent mayor, criticizing wasteful spending and high taxes. The ex-mayor and sheriff tried to organize a recall campaign, but failed. Palin kept her campaign promises, reducing her own salary, as well as reducing property taxes by 60%. She ran for reelection against the former mayor in 1999, winning by an even larger margin. Palin was also elected president of the Alaska Conference of Mayors.
In 2002, Palin made an unsuccessful bid for Lieutenant Governor, coming in second to Loren Leman in a four-way race. After Frank Murkowski resigned from his long-held U.S. Senate seat in mid-term to become governor, Palin interviewed to be his possible successor. Instead, Murkowski appointed his daughter, then-Alaska State Representative Lisa Murkowski.
Governor Murkowski appointed Palin Ethics Commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, where she served from 2003 to 2004 until resigning in protest over what she called the "lack of ethics" of fellow Alaskan Republican leaders, who ignored her whistleblowing complaints of legal violations and conflicts of interest. After she resigned, she exposed the state Republican party's chairman, Randy Ruedrich, one of her fellow Oil & Gas commissioners, who was accused of doing work for the party on public time, and supplying a lobbyist with a sensitive e-mail. Palin filed formal complaints against both Ruedrich and former Alaska Attorney General Gregg Renkes, who both resigned; Ruedrich paid a record $12,000 fine.
In 2006, Palin, running on a clean-government campaign, executed an upset victory over then-Gov. Murkowski in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Despite the lack of support from party leaders and being outspent by her Democratic opponent, she went on to win the general election in November 2006, defeating former Governor Tony Knowles. Palin said in 2006 that education, public safety, and transportation would be three cornerstones of her administration.
When elected, Palin became the first woman to be Alaska's governor, and the youngest governor in Alaskan history at 42 years old upon taking office. Palin was also the first Alaskan governor born after Alaska achieved U.S. statehood. She was also the first Alaskan governor not to be inaugurated in Juneau, instead choosing to hold her inauguration ceremony in Fairbanks. She took office on December 4, 2006.
Highlights of Governor Palin's tenure include a successful push for an ethics bill, and also shelving pork-barrel projects supported by fellow Republicans. Palin successfully killed the Bridge to Nowhere project that had become a nationwide symbol of wasteful earmark spending. "Alaska needs to be self-sufficient, she says, instead of relying heavily on 'federal dollars,' as the state does today."
She has challenged the state's Republican leaders, helping to launch a campaign by Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell to unseat U.S. Congressman Don Young and publicly challenging Senator Ted Stevens to come clean about the federal investigation into his financial dealings.
In 2007, Palin had an approval rating often in the 90s. A poll published by Hays Research on July 28, 2008 showed Palin's approval rating at 80%.
Palin's tenure is noted for her independence from big oil companies, while still promoting resource development. Palin has announced plans to create a new sub-cabinet group of advisors, to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions within Alaska.
Shortly after taking office, Palin rescinded thirty-five appointments made by Murkowski in the last hour of his administration, including the appointment by Murkowski of his former chief of staff Jim Clark to the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority. Clark later pled guilty to conspiring with a defunct oil-field-services company to channel money into Frank Murkowski's re-election campaign.
In March 2007, Palin presented the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA) as the new legal vehicle for building a natural gas pipeline from the state's North Slope. Only one legislator, Representative Ralph Samuels, voted against the measure, and in June Palin signed it into law. On January 5, 2008, Palin announced that a Canadian company, Transcanada, was the sole AGIA-compliant applicant.
In response to high oil and gas prices, and in response to the resulting state government budget surplus, Palin proposed giving Alaskans $100-a-month energy debit cards. She also proposed providing grants to electrical utilities so that they would reduce customers' rates. She subsequently dropped the debit card proposal, and in its place she proposed to send Alaskans $1,200 directly and eliminate the gas tax.
Palin is strongly pro-life, and belongs to Feminists for Life.
She opposes same-sex marriage, but she has stated that she has gay friends and is receptive to gay and lesbian concerns about discrimination. While the previous administration did not implement same-sex benefits, Palin complied with a state Supreme Court order and signed them into law. She disagreed with the Supreme Court ruling and supported a democratic advisory vote from the public on whether there should be a constitutional amendment on the matter. Alaska was one of the first U.S. states to pass a constitutional ban on gay marriage, in 1998, along with Hawaii.
Palin's first veto was used to block legislation that would have barred the state from granting benefits to the partners of gay state employees. In effect, her veto granted State of Alaska benefits to same-sex couples. The veto occurred after Palin consulted with Alaska's attorney general on the constitutionality of the legislation.
Matanuska Maid Dairy closure
When the Alaska Creamery Board recommended closing Matanuska Maid Dairy, an unprofitable state-owned business, Palin objected, citing concern for the impact on dairy farmers and the fact that the dairy had just received $600,000 in state money. When Palin learned that only the Board of Agriculture and Conservation could appoint Creamery Board members, she simply replaced the entire membership of the Board of Agriculture and Conservation. The new board, led by businesswoman Kristan Cole, reversed the decision to close the dairy. The new board approved milk price increases offered by the dairy in an attempt to control fiscal losses, even though milk from Washington was already offered in Alaskan stores at lower prices. In the end, the dairy was forced to close, and the state tried to sell the assets to pay off its debts but received no bids.
In the first days of her administration, Palin followed through on a campaign promise to sell the Westwind II jet purchased (on a state government credit account) by the Murkowski administration. The state placed the jet for sale on eBay three times. In August 2007, the jet was sold for $2.7 million.
Shortly after becoming governor, Palin canceled a contract for construction on an 11-mile (18-kilometer) gravel road outside of Juneau to a mine. This reversed a decision made in the closing days or hours of the Murkowski Administration.
In June 2007, Palin signed into law a $6.6 billion operating budget—the largest in Alaska's history. At the same time, she used her veto power to make the second-largest cuts of the construction budget in state history. The $237 million in cuts represented over 300 local projects, and reduced the construction budget to nearly $1.6 billion.
On July 11, 2008, Governor Palin dismissed Walter Monegan as Commissioner of Public Safety and instead offered him a position as executive director of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, which he subsequently turned down. Monegan alleged shortly after his dismissal that it may have been partly due to his reluctance to fire an Alaska State Trooper, Mike Wooten, who had been involved in a divorce and child custody battle with Palin's sister, Molly McCann. In 2006, before Palin was governor, Wooten was briefly suspended for ten days for threatening to kill McCann's (and Palin's) father, tasering his 11-year-old stepson (at the stepson's request), and violating game laws. After a union protest, the suspension was reduced to five days.
Governor Palin asserts that her dismissal of Monegan was unrelated to the fact that he had not fired Wooten, and asserts that Monegan was instead dismissed for not adequately filling state trooper vacancies, and because he "did not turn out to be a team player on budgeting issues." Palin acknowledges that a member of her administration, Frank Bailey, did contact the Department of Public Safety regarding Wooten, but both Palin and Bailey say that happened without her knowledge and was unrelated to her dismissal of Monegan. Bailey was put on leave for two months for acting outside the scope of his authority as the Director of Boards and Commissions.
In response to Palin's statement that she had nothing to hide, in August 2008 the Alaska Legislature hired Steve Branchflower to investigate Palin and her staff for possible abuse of power surrounding the dismissal, though lawmakers acknowledge that "Monegan and other commissioners serve at will, meaning they can be fired by Palin at any time." The investigation is being overseen by Democratic State Senator Hollis French, who says that the Palin administration has been cooperating and thus subpoenas are unnecessary. The Palin administration itself was the first to release an audiotape of Bailey making inquiries about the status of the Wooten investigation.
Wooten and the police union alleged that the governor had improperly released his employment files in his divorce case. However, McCann's attorney released a signed waiver from Wooten demonstrating that Wooten had authorized the release of his files through normal discovery procedures.
2008 Vice-presidential candidacy
Main article: John McCain presidential campaign, 2008
On August 29, 2008 Palin was chosen as John McCain's running mate. Palin's selection shocked numerous Republican officials who had speculated about other candidates such as Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, United States Senator Joseph Lieberman and former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. Some of McCain's outside advisors noted that the choice may undercut his campaign message that Obama is too inexperienced to lead.